What does this mean?

"Plantarunt vivi divino lumine coelos. Coelos nunc habitant. Ossa favilla fovet."

It's from a 1683 epitaph for two Danish priests.


1 Answer 1


This is, not surprisingly, Church Latin rather than Classical; coel- with the "O" makes that clear (Classical would be cael- with an "A").

Plantarunt vivi divino lumine coelos.
While alive in the light of God, [these] men cultivated the Heavens.

Coelos nunc habitant.
They now dwell in the heavens.

Ossa favilla fovet.
The ashes keep their bones safe.

  • 2
    Would a more idiomatic translation of the first be "In their life, these men ..." or is that inaccurate? Also, the men were buried, is there some significance to the ashes?
    – meide
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:27
  • 1
    @meide It's entirely possible I'm wrong about some details, since Church Latin really isn't my forte; favilla means "sparks" as well, so if it were Classical I'd take it as a reference to the stars, but I thought the Church always used favilla for "ashes" (as in dies irae, dies illa / solvet saeclum in favilla "on that day of wrath / the world shall crumble to ashes").
    – Draconis
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:31
  • 1
    Though, actually, edited.
    – Draconis
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:32
  • 2
    Divino lumine might represent life's daytime, in the God-given light they cultivated/tilled Heaven. L.2 they are welcomed home. Line3 is curfew (ignitegium) when the ash, favilla, is heaped round the embers (the bones they have left behind ossa) to keep them safe (foveo =cherish) until morning, the final resurrection.
    – Hugh
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 3:09
  • 1
    @Hugh Very nice! Updated my answer in that light
    – Draconis
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 4:13

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